Tory Bullying - Shapps Fantasy
As if anyone needed to know just how detached from reality many of those involved in the bullying row engulfing the Tory Party have become, they need look no further than today’s Independent, and James Cusick’s latest instalment on the saga, “Grant Shapps 'pledged top job to Mark Clarke in return for allegiance’ … Exclusive: Ex-minister sought backing for party leadership and was ‘Mark Clarke’s meal ticket’”.
Grant Shapps running for the leadership of the Tory Party: that is just how utterly deluded several of the players in this nastiest of soap operas were. But Cusick’s examination of the clique’s mindset shows there was some method in this madness: “Advisers to Mr Shapps did not expect him to beat Boris Johnson or George Osborne - and the idea of him leading the Tories now seems risible”. Understatement of the day there.
“But Mr Shapps told those close to him that the databases of active Tory members that he controlled - with the help of those in charge of key general election campaigns - meant he would do better in a leadership contest than many expected … As a reward for finishing strongly in any leadership race, Mr Shapps would anticipate a senior shadow cabinet post, allowing him to offer senior Westminster advisory jobs to the likes of Mr Clarke and fast-track their prospects of becoming Tory MPs in 2020”.
This might sound ridiculous, but Shapps seems to have had access to those databases, and not only that, gives every appearance of having allowed Clarke to use them to get his preferred candidates into key positions at the party’s youth wing Conservative Future. Zelo Street regulars will recall the resignation letter of Sarah-Jane Sewell from the post of Deputy Chairman (Membership) in July 2014.
Here’s what she said: “I am left concerned that a widely suggested candidate for national chairman has apparently been promoted using the Conservative Party’s Team2015 mailing lists and the Conservative Party social media accounts”. That candidate was Alexandra Paterson - Mark Clarke’s preferred choice to succeed Oliver Cooper. If those databases were under Shapps’ control, he was a full participant in the entryism.
It gets worse: also alleged to be a potential recipient for the “fast-track” to becoming an MP was Shapps’ then chief of staff Paul Abbott, another who has been desperately trying to distance himself from Mark Clarke. It has even been put to me that Donal Blaney had been “pencilled in” for a peerage. I’m sure he would have been suitably gracious about it.
But the most serious allegation yet to make it into the mainstream press is that Clarke’s value to the Tories was enhanced due to his ability to get one particularly well-known right-wing gossip source to “go easy” on the party, just by making one phone call. The names of all concerned, including Clarke’s contact, said to be one of his fellow freemasons, and the gossip source, have been passed to Zelo Street.
The Shapps leadership fantasy was bad. But there is worse to come. Stay tuned.
Also on Zelo Street today ...
Toby Young Islamophobia Busted Tobes' article on "British Values" which "others" were alleged not to share was replete with false equivalences and clearly aimed at perpetuating the Sun's Muslim bashing agenda.